PETA Eyes Old Maine Prison for Lobster Empathy Center


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
June 3, 2008

Animal-rights activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has submitted a bid to lease a vacant, rural Maine jail to establish the world's first Lobster Empathy Center.

"A prison is the perfect setting to demonstrate how lobsters suffer when they are caught in traps or confined to cramped, filthy supermarket tanks," PETA wrote in a June 2 letter to Somerset County commissioners. The county is constructing a new prison and has put the century-old facility in Skowhegan up for sale.

"The center will teach visitors to have compassion for these interesting, sensitive animals while also commemorating the millions of lobsters who are ripped from their homes in the ocean off the coast of Maine each year before being boiled alive."

Commission Chairman Philip Roy told the Bangor Daily News that the proposal is likely a publicity stunt.

PETA said the center would feature educational displays and "testimonials from top independent scientists confirming that lobsters feel pain just like other animals." Visitors can have their fingers wrapped in rubber bands for their entire visit.

"At that point, visitors can be moved to a small, filth-strewn glass tank where they will be crammed together and confined for up to an hour," the proposal states.

The center also would include a concession stand that would include faux lobster treats, and children would receive free stuffed toy lobsters labeled "Lobster Are Friends, Not Food."

"Mainers have been dragging lobsters from their ocean homes for generations," said PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. "It's time for them to learn that these fascinating animals deserve more than being treated as mere commodities."

The real estate agent fielding offers for the old jail says the county has no interest in leasing it, and that the goal is establish a business that will provide jobs. There have been numerous bids for the facility.

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